Part One: An introduction of Lee and how we came to collaborate. Showcasing our behind-the-scene is important as we don’t want to just “influence” — we want others to take time and “understand” the content we create.
“Hello, this is Lee Vosburgh speaking.” The voice was bright, deep and spirited.
I first found Lee’s work through the extensive Canadian Shopping Guide she had written and published on her website, where she featured Vestige as one of the selected brands. It came as a surprise — as I had no prior contact with this “blogger”, and certainly had not paid her to write about my brand. After reading her thoughtful review, I reached out and thanked her. We then became friends.
Despite being a known and proven marketing tactic, Vestige had never worked with an influencer to promote a product. Something about simply sending free clothes in exchange for reviews, follows and purchases felt dishonest and manipulative. However, a closer look at Lee’s blog pieces and social posts revealed who she was as a person — she was passionate about Canadian designers and supported smaller, independent brands. She also discussed social issues with kindness and respect. It was evident that Lee was trying to use her journalistic talent for positive changes.
After months of getting to know each other over Instagram, we decided to work together. Since Lee lived all the way across the country, I wanted at least to put a voice to the face. We jumped on a phone call.
Aileen: Hello Lee! When the time comes to introduce you to my audience, how should I label your line of work? A writer, a blogger? Or an influencer, perhaps?
“Influencer is the one I shy away from,” Lee responded, “The term just doesn’t adequately reflect what I do. I think deeply about each of the brands I work with — and I don’t think of these designers and products as just a dollar sign.”
“This work is my passion and I love fashion. I am lucky enough to grow up with parents who are supporters of fine arts and champions of the creative.”
“In fact, I pushed back when I was younger,” Lee chuckled, “and told them I wanted to wear a suit, work in an office and be a lawyer. I did eventually go to art school though, and continued a creative path.”
Aileen: To be honest, I didn’t start to think about slow fashion until I started Vestige. What was it like for you when you first adopted the slow fashion lifestyle?
“At the time, which was about six years ago, I believe I felt a combination of excitement, relief and a new sense of connection. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for fashion & style and yet my relationship to both had been feeling strained. I was a year or so into building my blog and had started feeling as though I’d never be able to keep up with mainstream standards.”
“This “new” concept of taking time to choose the clothes that we invest in, appreciating more than just the end result of a garment and finding pieces to love longterm, felt so contradictory to the revolving door of fast fashion and trend-based decision making. It was a relief to discover an approach to style that truly aligned with my inner self and personal values.”
Aileen: What are your thoughts on slow fashion now?
“These days I focus less on “slow fashion” and more on the concept of “thoughtful style”. I’ve come to appreciate that the clothes we wear have so much more meaning than just how we look. They’re a form of self-expression, a set of armour to carry us into the world and a medium through which we hold and share our stories. Supporting slow fashion enriches all these facets of our personal style through a sense of deeper connection. Sharing the incredible slow fashion brands I discover through my work on Style Bee remains the driving force behind everything I do.”
The Hyle Top from our Vestige look book.
We proceeded to talk about clothing that is Made in Canada, and Lee posed some questions for me as well.
Lee: In what ways is being made in Canada an integral part of the Vestige Story philosophy?
I paused to process the big question and answered, “Made in Canada has become a pillar for Vestige. This important aspect of the business also instills a sense of purpose in my work.”
“However, my products were not always locally made. The switch to Canadian manufacturing was actually a decision driven by necessity, rather than noble notions!” I laughed.
“Before I started Vestige, I completed a Master’s Degree in Fashion Management. It was a joint program between three notable universities from New York, Hong Kong and Paris. Our coursework mainly used luxury conglomerates or fast fashion giants as case studies — all of whom manufacture their products in China and other cost-effective factories in Asian countries.”
“So when I founded my own brand, I thought offshore manufacturing was the proper path. However, work quickly became unenjoyable. Miscommunications happened too often. Orders frequently arrived wrong or poorly made. In those partnerships, there was a stark disconnect between expectations.”
“I needed a change. After all, I did not start a brand just to conceive more junk for this world. I decided to partner with a local production house, and have been doing so for the past three years. I can proudly say that “Made in Canada” is the foundation of what made Vestige into a stronger brand!”
At the end of our phone conversation, Lee and I decided to dig a little deeper into the importance of local manufacturing and slow fashion. Using our discussion as the basis, I will put together a Made in Canada resource sheet for the Part 2 of this project.
Working with Lee has erased some of my initial bias towards “bloggers”. I have came to realize that no matter the form or medium, if a genuine voice is used, our words will reach others and information can be equipped to create positive change.